Mette W. Hansen1 and Niels Heine Kristensen2

1Corresponding author
Associate Professor Mette Weinreich Hansen
University of Copenhagen
Department of Food and resource Economics
Section for Consumption, Bioethics and Governance
mette.weinreich (at)



The dominating industrialized and globalized food systems causes various challenges for both humans and nature. Climate impacts, lack of food security and food justice for all citizens, flawed food quality and safety in the production systems and problematic consumption patterns (over-or under consumption), current methods of growing and producing food that challenge the eco systems etc.

The Food Studies research – emerging through the last 10-15 years – offer a more comprehensive and context oriented approach to the dominating silo-approach towards solving wicked problems (Rittel and Webber, 1973). The Food studies approach contributes with a view on food system challenges by offering an interdisciplinary – sometimes integrated approach towards understanding the problems looking at food networks, food design and public health nutrition. Parasecoli (2017) underlines in his definition of food design the importance of not only looking at food-design in the traditional design way (being shape and looks, aesthetics and functionality) but not least at the system design in order to offer a more innovative and holistic framework for thinking in changes.

To elaborate food system design thinking, an STS approach is suggested. A socio-technical conceptual framework qualifies insights, in-depth understandings and possible solutions, offers stronger theories and methods. For this analysis the inclusion of actors, objects, power and discourses (Clarke et al, 2017) are interesting analytical attention points. Thereby levering understandings of the urban-rural relations and practices of consumption and meal cultures as well as more normative understandings of the basic ontologies of all knowledge production (Mol, 2013 )

This sessions offers a framework for discussing the food systems challenges and the potential for an STS framework to

  • Contribute with a framework for working with contradictions, complexities and embedded power structures
  • Discuss a critical and analytical gaps in existing research in nutrition, consumer behavior and product development
  • Support competence building of professionals and academics in the agro-food sector making them able to act as drivers for a system change in not only alternative food networks but also in the established structures of the current food system



Clarke, A., Friese, C. and Washburn, R. (2017): Situational Analysis. Grounded Theory after the Interpretive Turn. 2nd ed. Sage

Mol, A. (2013): Mind your plate! The ontonorms of Dutch dieting. Social Studies of Science 43(3), p 379-396

Parasecoli, F (2017): Food, Design, and Innovation: From Professional Specialization to Citizen Involvement. Chapter 11 in The Bloomsbury Handbook of Food and Popular Culture. ISBN 9781474296243 p 155-168

Rittel, H. and Webber M.M. (1973): Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning. Policy Sciences (4). P 155-169